Dragon*Con Newbie - Dragon Days - F. T. Lukens

Hi Geek Potpourri readers! This is F.T. Lukens, author of The Star Host  and it is my distinct pleasure to share with you the awesomeness (and the not so awesomeness) of Dragon*con! Held over Labor Day weekend, Dragon*con drew a record number 77,000 attendees, including yours truly. It was my first time (I am a newbie no more!) and it was amazing if a little overwhelming.

Instead of giving a play-by-play of my experience – I have decided to break my post into two sections. The first being the events/things/people which were absolutely awesome. The second being the things that weren’t so awesome. And *spoiler warning* - the former is much longer than the latter.

Okay, to get to it!

 

The Awesome:

·         Dragon*con draws attendees from all over the place. And one of the most awesome things was that I got to meet several of my friends. One of my good friends from college came down from NJ to attend and we hung out on Friday night. Also, I met CB Lee and Rachel Davidson Leigh. Both are fellow authors through Interlude Press and we shared a booth in the vendor’s area.

Connecting with friends was one of the best parts of the trip.

Connecting with friends was one of the best parts of the trip.

Though I did not cosplay – many of the attendees did. Seeing all the costumes was amazing. Watching Ghostbusters rub elbows with Xena and Kylo Ren was so much fun. One of my favorite cosplays was a Pokestop.

·         Also this Wonder Woman.

·         And this Kamala Khan.

·         And Greg and Wirt from Over the Garden Wall. (pic5)

·         One of the best things I saw was two T-Rex cosplayers waddling up a broken escalator in the MARTA station. It made my day. (Sadly, I did not get a picture.)

·         I had the pleasure to be a panelist on two awesome panels on the Whedon track. The first was titled BiSciFi: Diversity in sci-fi – Where we’ve been and Where we are going.

I got to talk all about Star Trek, Simon Pegg, Sense 8, and other great representation in media, as well as talk about my own book. The coolest thing? The line for our panel was down the hallway and we had standing room only.

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My fellow panelists were the aforementioned CB Lee, Rachel Davidson Leigh, and also Carrie Pack. (pic8)

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·         The other panel I got to be a part of was What Fan Authors Bring to Publishing. This panel featured the above mentioned awesome ladies and included DL Wainwright (link http://thehollowsun.com). It was fun to talk about fandom and how being a fan author made me a stronger published author. This also had a lot of audience participation which I enjoyed.

·         Panels that I attended that I loved – Let’s Make a Hero. I honestly forget who the panelists were but in the panel the audience created a hero while the panelists drew the hero and gave insight on what makes a great hero. It was very helpful as an author for the tips and reminders. I enjoyed it though it was in the America’s Mart.

·         Sci-fi TV Shows You Thought No One Remembered – Honestly, this was the panel I was most excited about other than my own. The panelists were very knowledgeable. The audience was able to participate. I basically remembered most every show that was talked about. I mentioned Brisco County, Jr! I also got to hang out with my friend Seanie from college at this panel. And he kept a list of all the shows they talked about for further research. The panel started at 11:30pm and at 12:45am was still going strong. As much as I wanted to stay, I had to skip out and make it back to my hotel for some sleep.

·         Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog – a fun viewing of the movie with a shadowcast. This event was very popular and the line was incredible. But I got in and was able to sing along!

·         The Best Little Hootenanny in the ‘Verse – a super fun dance party that went forever. I danced for a while with Rachel and we hootenannied it up. The problem? I stayed waaaay too late and lost my voice for my panel the following day. I sounded like a frog. Oops. But it was really fun. They had different picture stations set up and cosplays wandering around. There were about twenty Jaynes in a group hanging out. I coined the phrase – A COBB OF JAYNES. Yes, I’m proud of myself about that one. Also BONUS: when leaving the party, I bumped into fearless leaders John and Emma. Which, when attending what is basically a big party across 7 venues with 76, 999 of your closest friends, bumping randomly into people is difficult. But I achieved it.

·         Dragon*con night life is amazing.

·         Okay, so I was a little nervous about going into the Walk of Fame. But I did. By myself. And stood in line to meet Adam Baldwin of Jayne fame. I met two very friendly folks also waiting in line and we talked for the hour and a half we waited. But here is where it got a little surreal. While waiting, I heard the guy next to me talk about how he might miss his upcoming panel because of the wait. (I hear ya, buddy. I hear ya. I had about 10 minutes to get from the Marriot to the Sheraton for my own panel!) Anyway, I turned to see who was standing next to me and it turned out to be TIMOTHY ZAHN. Yes, I waited in line for ADAM BALDWIN WHILE STANDING NEXT TO TIMOTHY ZAHN. But wait! It gets better. As I’m standing there, Jason Isaacs comes out and sits down only a few feet from me. JASON ISAACS! And a few moments later, Summer Glau comes out and walks right in front of me. And then Sean Maher joins her and sits in his own spot. (which I could’ve reached out and touched.) And then BRETT DALTON WALKS PAST. And lastly, Adam Baldwin came out.

·         Adam Baldwin was very nice and he signed the picture I picked and shook my hand. He didn’t even blink at my word vomit. I even made it to my panel on time.

·         Probably the best part of Dragon*con was that everyone – from panelists to attendees – was just really nice. Everyone I talked to was helpful and happy.

·         I really enjoyed the bus system. It made getting around much easier. And it ran until 3am.

·         My hotel was pretty nice. It wasn’t one of the host hotels but it was close and had a bus stop right out front.

 

The Not Awesome:

·         It was hot.

·         I got lost. A lot. I missed the newbie walking tour and the maps weren’t that intuitive. So I spent a lot of time at the con wandering around and hoping I was going in the right direction.

·         There were a TON of people.

·         The America’s Mart as a venue kind of sucked. The room numbers made no sense.

·         I didn’t plan well. I thought I would be able to get between panels fairly quickly and that just isn’t the case. And for the big panels – you do have to arrive early to get in. (The biggest event I attended was Dr. Horrible. I didn’t even try for the panels with the big guests).

·         The mall food court was probably the best place to get food when conning. But again, it’s so packed. Finding a place to sit and rest was nearly impossible.

·         Also, the con was exhausting. It was fun! But each day, I was falling face first into bed.

·         Despite meeting up with friends, I was alone a lot. My husband wasn’t able to attend so I did much of my conning by myself. That wasn’t bad, but sometimes it would’ve been nice to share the squee with someone.

·         I went from Thursday through Sunday afternoon and it just wasn’t enough time. Next year, I am going to go from Thursday through Monday.

 

The verdict – I am going back next year. Definitely. I had so much fun. I don’t know if I will do the vendor booth again, but I will try to be on panels. And I’ll try to meet some of my favorite people – friends and celebrities.

 


F.T. Lukens is the author of the YA sci-fi novel, The Star Host. The sequel has been announced for 2017.